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HILTON-O’BRIEN: Parents need to fight for openness in coming school board elections

“Presenting sexualized material to children without parents even knowing about it is clearly in violation of a parent’s right to decide their children’s education.”

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Alberta’s UCP government has made some progress in putting parents back in the driver’s seat of their children’s education, but there is still a major NDP elephant in the room that needs to be addressed. 

During its term in government, the NDP passed a law that made it illegal for teachers to inform parents if a child joined a gay-straight alliance (GSA). While this was ostensibly to protect vulnerable kids from being outed to potentially unaccepting or abusive parents, the bill was put forward mostly to create a “wedge issue” against the opposition UCP. 

They argued some parents (meaning you) might abuse their kids if they came out, hence the need to outlaw telling parents. 

But children who belong to sexual minorities already had protections under Alberta law. A teacher who has reason to fear a child might be abused has an obligation to report this to child welfare. Resources are available and used where needed.

For the sake of political gamesmanship, the government saw fit to trample on the fundamental rights of parents, playing on fears of distant hypotheticals. Whatever the political merits of the issue, our children’s safety and education should not be a political game. 

Teachers are legally forbidden to tell parents if their children are attending these groups and being exposed to their sometimes-questionable materials, often at a very young age. 

Some sanctioned GSA materials contain highly sexualized – and sometimes graphic – content. The delivery of those materials can also be worrisome. Some of the rhetoric borders on creepy given these groups are provided for kids as young as five years of age. But this isn’t a debate about whether or not GSAs are a good thing or not. That should be up to parents to decide for themselves.  

Parents for Choice in Education know parental consent is key. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education their children will receive. It’s at the centre of human rights, and part of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Presenting sexualized material to children without parents even knowing about it is clearly in violation of this principle.

You may be thinking to yourself we’re using the wrong tense. The NDP were defeated, and Kenney’s UCP government was elected with a mandate to fix the problem. You’re partly right, but the issue is far from resolved. 

The NDP’s legislation forced trustees to pass policies at the school board level which had to include very specific wording that enforced secrecy between school staff and parents. The UCP government changed the law and removed that requirement, but the damage was already done. The policies at the school board level have been left in place, and almost no public, Catholic or francophone school board has since removed them.  

Children as young as five may still be exposed to heavily sexualized material in school through clubs and activities, and teachers are still not allowed to inform the parents. This isn’t provincial law anymore; school board trustees are choosing to continue this policy.

Don’t bother sending off an angry post to your MLA; they can’t solve the problem. It’s not the provincial government’s business to bully their way into dictating local school board policies. That’s what got us into this problem in the first place.  

The issue is now a local one. Your local trustees have the power to remove this policy, but so far, they’ve chosen not to. If trustees won’t change these policies, then parents need to change our local school trustees.

Part of the problem is nobody knows who the school board trustees are. Sure, we elect them every four years. But who votes for them? The last provincial election saw over a million votes cast, but fewer than 186,000 votes were cast in school board elections. That is only about four times as many votes as there are members of the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA). A tiny number of people are deciding the fate of all our children. With so few people voting, you can have a real, direct impact.  

Parents for Choice in Education is running seminars on how to be a candidate and how to campaign.  We’ll also be publicly asking which candidates support this policy of secrecy, and which ones will stand with parents for the safety of their children. We’ll be speaking out at public events.

There are a few practical things that parents can do, starting with signing PCE’s Parental Choice Is Key open letter. Parents can donate to help provide training seminars for candidates and campaign teams and conduct valuable interviews to equip voters with an understanding of where candidates stand on important issues. 

For those parents really willing to get off the bench, they can run for trustee on their local school board. Supports are available to those willing to step up.

The trustee elections this October 18th will be a battle. Well-funded special interest groups and government unions fueled by mandatory dues will use their resources to push an agenda that undermines school choice and parental authority. Only by standing together can we protect our children and elect trustees who will prioritize safety, not secrets. 

John Hilton-O’Brien is Executive Director of Parents for Choice in Education

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Steven Ruthven

    May 31, 2021 at 7:03 pm

    Isn’t it amazing the effort & time being spent on sex orientation education in the public school system? I just call it grooming, probably not for sexual interference, but grooming for the liberalized world of whatever feels good, just do it.

    The public school system would do better, for society, if it actually focused on educating students so they can function in society as free thinking people. Instead of the socialized unthinking follow blindly what you are told to do and don’t ask critical questions of those in power. Sure sounds like Marxism is alive and well from grade 1 to our universities.

    Former Russian President Nikita Khrushchev said of the West. “We will take America without firing a shot. We do not have to invade the U.S. We will destroy you from within….”

  2. J Brodeur

    May 31, 2021 at 10:57 am

    Homophobic nonsense. Love is love. If Christians can’t figure that out, that’s sad.

  3. Left Coast

    May 31, 2021 at 10:20 am

    No child is Born a same-sexer . . . there is Zero science to support the “born that way” nonsense.
    School boards & Teachers today are foisting Gender Dysphoria nonsense on 6 year olds, why you might ask?
    They are Grooming your children folks, a very rare Mental Disorder has now become an Epidemic because it is being pushed as the New Normal. A small group of LA shrinks, some were same-sexers & trannies, decided about 9 years ago that this rare Mental Disorder was now NORMAL. This is quite insane, but the world we live in today.

    “Psychologist John Money, the man many now consider to be the father of gender theory.
    Canadian parents of twin boys sought Money’s advice in 1967 after one of their sons had a botched circumcision. Money advised them that with hormones and sex-change surgery, the boy could be raised as a girl.
    But by the time Brenda was a teenager, it became clear that the plan wasn’t working. Brenda became known as a boy, David Reimer, who later was the subject of the 2000 book “As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl,” by John Colapinto. In the book, Reimer condemned the experiment and spoke of his anguish. He committed suicide in 2004.”

    60 Minutes recently ran an expose of this insanity . . . which is firmly routed in Canada’s Education System . . . one Dr. pushing the Gender nonsense was a Transgender . . . how insane is that?

    “The activists behind gender theory allow young children with no conception of sex to choose their gender despite the fact that they are too young to understand the long-term ramifications such decisions may have.

    Not only does this set of ideas fly in the face of what science tells us about sex differences; it has also led to the suffering — and even deaths — of countless young boys and girls.”

    Suicides in post op Transgenders is alarmingly high . . .

  4. Barbara

    May 31, 2021 at 10:18 am

    There’s an elcetion this fall. Start campaigning for sane candidates in your district.

  5. Woodrow George

    May 31, 2021 at 9:35 am

    Get involved, parents! Right now our school boards are being taken over by those with a left-wing/Marxist agenda.

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Former general slamms Trudeu ‘stupdity’

Canadian taxpayer’s millions go directly into the Taliban’s blood-soaked hands. No one’s on the ground to ensure it helps Afghans they terrorize and slaughter.

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There’s truth, duty, and valour — the Royal Military College (RMC) of Canada’s motto the honourable live by as they strive to keep promises made.

Then there’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s broken promises to thousands of Afghans stuck in a potential death trap, as hopes of evacuation to safety rapidly fade.

Afghans helped the Canadian military during their 2001-2104 Afghanistan mission, believing Canada’s promise to bring them here to safety if necessary. 

It’s years past necessary. Promises broken. They’re hiding in terror with their children — Lord help the little girls — from Taliban predators. 

“There’s a bunch of people running around with sharp knives looking for them. They wouldn’t be brought before a court. The Taliban would take their heads off,” retired Maj.-Gen. Clive Addy, former Land Force Western Area commander, told the Western Standard.

Faithful translators proved invaluable. 

“They were very good at passing information to soldiers to prevent them from getting bombed out, or things like that. There’s a myriad of human services they provided. It required a heck of a lot of skill, camouflage, truth. It was that kind of courage they showed on our behalf that we must show for them,” said Addy.

“Truth, duty, and valour. The truth is, the Taliban took over. They’re criminals. Now they’ve got the place. The people to whom we made a vow, we have the duty to fulfill it. And valour, we’ve got to have the guts to do it.” 

“I cannot, having served my country, sit here and watch us walk away from such an important commitment. We’re walking away.”

It’s not that Trudeau isn’t shovelling money into Afghanistan. He pledged an initial extra $50 million for humanitarian aid, topping $27.3 million allocated for 2021.

Recently, Trudeau gave $1.7 million to the Afghanistan Strategic Evacuation Team (ASET), a group of Canadians and Afghans overseen by the Veterans Transition Network (VTN), helping Afghan interpreters.

Of the 10,000 Afghan translators and their families they’ve identified, 1,760 are hiding in safe houses used since the U.S. withdrawal in August. 

The $3 million spent to date, at $20,000 a day, was donated by private citizens and corporations. 

Funds run out November 5. 

Shockingly, Trudeau stipulated the $1.7 million couldn’t be used for safe houses, only logistics.  

ASET is overseen by three retired Canadian major generals — Dean Milner, David Fraser, and Denis Thompson — all RMC graduates.

Bureaucrats, obediently wagging their tails for Trudeau, tell these military greats, all former task-force commanders in Afghanistan, where to spend money.

Canadian taxpayer’s millions go directly into the Taliban’s blood-soaked hands. No one’s on the ground to ensure it helps Afghans they terrorize and slaughter.

Trudeau’s foolishly hoping the devious Taliban — seeking cash and recognition as a legitimate government — will be good little terrorists keeping a promise to behave.

“I’m just shaking my head. I don’t know how they come up with this stupidity. The Taliban asked for support, and we’ve got immigration going through the UN prepared to give them money. But they’re not prepared to give money to people under threat,” said Addy.

“The Taliban have the gall to say ‘Our people are hungry, send money to the UN.’ We’re supporting that. I’m sure there’s some hungry Taliban that Canada might help. The rest of the people are starving.”

On the campaign trail, Trudeau said Canada would welcome 20,000 Afghan refugees. Foreign Minister Marc Garneau, a former Navy commander, doubled it to 40,000 at the UN General Assembly in September.

At an October G20 meeting, Trudeau proclaimed humanitarian assistance must continue, but urged the Taliban to respect rights of women and children. Urge away, it’ll never happen.

Trudeau also urged other countries to take in more refugees.

So far, Canada says it welcomed 3,700 Afghans. That disputed number’s likely 3,000. Many had already left Afghanistan and were ‘evacuated’ from safe countries. Less than 20% were interpreters and families.

Addy recently penned a letter to ministers and MPs to be signed by RMC alumni, outlining a blueprint of what Trudeau must do.

It stated the need to expedite funds to ASET; remove barriers restricting funds from being used for safe houses; remove documentation obstacles eliminating the need for passports by issuing single use travel documents to valid resettlement applicants allowing them to obtain Pakistan e-visas; issue facilitation letters to support the travel documents; and fund air charters for evacuation.

Addy, Milner, Fraser and Thompson aren’t the only retired commanders criticizing the government.

In August, retired general and former chief of the defence staff Rick Hillier told CBC the evacuation operation is “cluttered” by bureaucratic clumsiness, inefficiency, and paperwork. Former lieutenant-general and Liberal MP Andrew Leslie echoed concerns.

Trudeau said the Taliban seized power so quickly, Canada couldn’t evacuate more people. Nonsense.  Military personnel and NGOs have fought for years to get interpreters out.

“I spent three years trying to bring in one of my good Afghans and family members. His file was in Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada longer. No movement. Zero, with me picking on them daily, getting lawyers to help,” said VTN’s Milner.

“He was almost killed. The Taliban had his phone. He was a fighter. The Taliban wanted him big-time. We were able to sneak him and his seven lovely children out…They’re in Canada.”

The government, rightfully, says Afghans must be vetted. Hence, the delay. 

The VTN already vetted thousands, people they know well.

Who better to vet? A bureaucrat perusing applications? Or Canadians these Afghans fought beside?

The clock’s ticking Trudeau. 

It’s about truth, duty and valour, right Garneau? Being a RMC graduate, did you forget that part? 

Get them out.

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard
lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Canada dithers while girls get beheaded for playing volleyball

If Taliban thugs unleash demonic rage on a girl because she was involved in sports, imagine what awaits Afghans who helped Canadian soldiers — keeping many alive — during the 2001-2014 mission in Afghanistan.

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Mahjabin Hakimi was beheaded by the Taliban who then posted gruesome photos of her severed head on social media as a menacing warning to others. 

Why? The girl played volleyball.

Hakimi, a star player on the girls’ national team, was slaughtered in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul.

If Taliban thugs unleash demonic rage on a girl because she was involved in sports, imagine what awaits Afghans who helped Canadian soldiers — keeping many alive — during the 2001-2014 mission in Afghanistan.

Time is running out for 1,760 Afghan translators and their families who’ve been kept safe only because of an effort led by retired Canadian top military commanders and carried out by non-governmental agencies and others.

For courageously risking their lives, Afghans were promised refuge in Canada if needed. They remain indefinitely trapped, betrayed by the Trudeau government. 

Despite endless political platitudes and promises, it isn’t the government doggedly working to get them out. 

About 10,000 Afghans who helped Canadians, identified by the Veterans Transition Network (VTN), are targets of vengeful marauding medieval assassins hunting for them.

The VTN oversees the provision of emergency funds for shelter and support of the 1,760 during an agonizing wait for evacuation through the Afghanistan Strategic Evacuation Team comprised of Canadians and Afghans.

The $20,000 a day cost since the Taliban seized power in August when the U.S. pulled out, has been manageable due to private and corporate donations.

Funds are running out. The lifeline’s gone in two weeks. 

Aman Lara, a Canadian non-governmental organization, works closely with the VTN. 

Retired Canadian lieutenant-colonel Eleanor Taylor, who is chief of staff, notified the Afghans Friday: “Due to the complexity of the situation in Afghanistan, Aman Lara regretfully has to scale back accommodation support to Afghans in need of evacuation by November 5.

“We had expected that applications would be processed in a timely manner and evacuations would be swifter. Unfortunately, our ability to finance the accommodations has diminished and time has run out.”

Three retired major-generals — Dean Milner, Denis Thompson and David Fraser — have been working feverishly since July to evacuate these Afghans. They’re all former task-force commanders in Afghanistan.

On Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau assured Fraser the government is working on air charter evacuation flights to Pakistan and elsewhere and will investigate the problematic documentation process. 

He intends to pass along the VTN’s concerns to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino.

However, not much can be done until the October 26 cabinet shuffle, said Garneau. Then the new cabinet must settle in and Parliament won’t resume until November 22.

So, the federal government — and its cumbersome bureaucratic process that creates obstacles — continues along its useless path going nowhere.

Despite grand promises from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and cabinet ministers evacuation efforts are sluggish.

“They all keep saying they’re going to support us. When?” asked Milner.

Months ago, Trudeau pledged to resettle 40,000 Afghan refugees.

“Where are they coming from? Tell me. The Afghans that need to be supported are those in Afghanistan.”

The government claims it has evacuated 3,700 Afghans. 

“I think it’s over 3,000. Anything they said, I take it with exaggeration. No more than 20% were interpreters and their families,” said Milner.

That leaves embassy staff and Afghans already safe in other countries. 

“We don’t want the low-hanging fruit of other countries. The ones that did the work for us, that worked closely alongside us, are still stuck in miserable Afghanistan,” said Milner.

“We have over 10,000 Afghans in our group who still need to be evacuated. We’ve managed to bring a little over 300 through the border into Pakistan. We have a lot more to do,” said Milner.

That would include finding money to keep Afghans in safe houses. VTN asked the government for funding.

“We’ve been asking constantly. We’re getting support from many people. But the government still hasn’t bitten. They gave $1.7 million two weeks ago to keep us quiet. We couldn’t use that for safe houses. That was actually part of the policy.”

That money must be used to cover other expenses.

“That’s a drop in the bucket when you’re taking care of this many people. We’re paying to transport people across the country to Pakistan. We’re paying for buses. We’re paying for Afghans that are supporting us. We’re supporting a team trying to operationalize this and make it work. It doesn’t take much to eat up money.”

“Volunteers like me, I don’t need money,” said Milner.

Individual Canadians and “outstanding” companies like McCain Foods and Sobeys, donated nearly $3 million racked up in expenses so far.

“It has cost $20,000 a day since August for the safe houses. That’s not counting other life support and transportation costs.”

VTN is exploring ways to evacuate Afghans by land and on charter flights from Mazar-i-Sharif Airport, in Afghanistan’s fourth-largest city.

“We’d like to get going with charter air flights. The Taliban are now allowing flights into Afghanistan.”

But the $750,000 cost of one charter would “eat up” the safe house money left.

Why isn’t the government running charter flights?

No one’s flying out yet and the Taliban’s on the prowl. 

“There’s still an absolute danger. The Taliban are unpredictable. You can’t trust them. That’s why we fought them. Here they are now in power. They don’t like fun, they don’t like women, they don’t like school, they don’t like sporting activities.” 

“We get absolutely awful stories. We’re not going to stop until we get these Afghans out. We see it as a moral obligation. They supported us over there. They’re great people.”

TOMORROW: Truth Duty Valour vs. Trudeau’s broken promises.

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard
lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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Opinion

WAGNER: The left ignores growing support for Alberta independence at its peril

Angus Reid released its poll showing that over half of Albertans believed the province would be better off if it left Canada. Were those results just another Postmedia trick?

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A recent poll conducted by Mainstreet Research for the Western Standard showed new heights of support for Alberta independence. This demonstrates the movement is alive and not running out of steam. Just because the issue is out of the headlines for the moment does not mean it’s far from the thoughts of a great many Albertans.

The poll found 40% support for Alberta independence with 45% preferring to remain in Canada, and another 15% undecided. If the undecideds are removed, support for independence rises to 47% versus 53% for the status quo.  

Previous Mainstreet Research polls commissioned by the Western Standard showed growing — but demonstrably weaker — support for independence. A July 6, 2020 story entitled “Alberta leads the West in wanting independence” found only 20% of Albertans favouring independence. Another story from Jan. 13, 2021, “Third of Albertans & majority of UCP voters back Western independence, shyer about going it alone,” found 25% favouring Alberta independence if the province struck out on its own, but 36% support for an independent country comprising other Western provinces.

The polling results seem to indicate a growing trend of support for independence. That’s obviously good news for those favouring that option.

It seems, however, that Alberta’s progressives have a blind spot when it comes to acknowledging popular support for independence. This has been evident in recent years, even as Justin Trudeau has driven many Albertans into the sovereigntist camp.

With Trudeau aggressively preventing pipeline construction and resource development, support for independence gained considerable strength towards the end of 2018. Indeed, early in 2019, the Angus Reid Institute released its own poll indicating independence sentiment was quite strong in Alberta. The article reporting the results stated: “More than half Albertans (52%) say they believe the west would be better off if it left Canada.”

Yet, just a few weeks earlier, prominent leftist blogger Dave Cournoyer wrote, “Reading the pages of the Postmedia newspapers or the #ableg hashtag on Twitter you might believe that Albertans from roughneck Fort McMurray to trendy Kensington are calling for Independence and rising up in arms against their political overlords in Ottawa. Nope.”

He went on to state that “… it is difficult to believe there is any real appetite for Albertans to leave Canada, and the consequences that would follow.” And he assured his readers that “support for separation remains consistently low.” The occasional demand for Alberta independence, Cournoyer wrote, “is the political equivalent of a toddler’s temper tantrum.”

Shortly after Cournoyer’s piece appeared, another prominent leftist blogger, David Climenhaga, also downplayed the independence movement. Climenhaga’s unique contribution to the discussion is his claim the Alberta independence movement is a smoke-and-mirrors trick perpetrated by Toronto-based Postmedia.

Writing of the surge in support for independence towards the end of 2018, Climenhaga claimed that, “The whole thing was almost entirely ginned up in a couple of weeks by a parade of political commentators at Postmedia’s newspapers, basically providing background music for the campaign of United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney.” That is, Postmedia was trying to create a political climate to aid Jason Kenney in his dispute with Justin Trudeau.

Climenhaga went on to assure his readers that by the beginning of 2019, “the Alberta independence ‘threat’ will be fading into history, again, worth a chuckle or two, like Ur-Western-separatist Gordon Kesler, and taken seriously by almost nobody – or perhaps I should say, nobodies.” Apparently, in his view, only “nobodies” take Alberta independence seriously. That would probably mean a lot of Western Standard readers would be “nobodies” by Climenhaga’s standard – like Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables.”

His main point, though, was public controversy over Alberta independence was just a big show that had come to an end: “But the squall is over, folks. Watch for Postmedia to start backing away as soon as they start to realize how little traction this partisan claptrap has.”

Yet, just a few weeks after he wrote that, Angus Reid released its poll showing over half of Albertans believed the province would be better off if it left Canada. Were those results just another Postmedia trick?

Albertans had grievances with the federal government for generations. These grievances are accumulating and generating increasing discontent with the province’s place in Canada. The support for independence revealed by the new Western Standard poll reflects the unhappiness of many Albertans. They are beginning to realize the status quo is not going to change and the only positive alternative is for Alberta to leave Canada.

Nevertheless, progressives appear to be blind to the legitimate concerns of these Albertans and dismiss them as “nobodies” who are throwing a “temper tantrum.” If support for Alberta independence continues to grow, progressives may have to do more than simply demean its proponents.

The causes underlying growth in sovereignist sentiment are not going away and as a result, the movement is here to stay.

Michael Wagner is a Western Standard columnist

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